June 17, 2014, 5:03 PM

Top e-retailers will soon display a product’s price per unit

In an initiative brokered by the New York Attorney General’s office, e-retailers including Costco, Wal-Mart and Walgreens will include unit pricing on product pages online. N.Y. law requires that large retailers include unit pricing.

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A handful of large retailers have signed on to display the price per unit on product pages online and in mobile apps. Unit pricing shows what the price is by a selected measure, for example, the per-ounce cost of cereal or the cost of a single diaper sold in a box of 50. Unit pricing is supposed to help consumers quickly understand and compare prices.

The New York Attorney General’s office says Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Costco Wholesale Corp., CVS Caremark Corp., FreshDirect Holdings Inc., Walgreen Co. and Drugstore.com (a subsidiary of Walgreens) will add or expand the number of products that include unit pricing online in the coming months. Walmart.com and Costco.com will include it by the end of this year; the other retailers will add unit pricing by next March.

The New York Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Bureau spearheaded the initiative to get large e-retailers to display unit pricing, as large retailers must do in bricks-and-mortar stores in New York. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have some type of unit pricing display requirement, according to the New York Attorney General.

“As the Internet becomes the shopping mall of the 21st century, we need to ensure that consumers have the same robust protections online that they do in brick-and-mortar stores,” says Eric T. Schneiderman, New York attorney general.

Wal-Mart began displaying unit pricing for some products on Walmart.com, such as pet food, about 18 months ago, a spokesman tells Internet Retailer, but it will extend unit pricing to more consumable products on Walmart.com, such as dry grocery products, and health and cosmetic products. The spokesman says unit pricing is already available for products in numerous categories available through Walmart To Go, the retailer’s e-grocery site currently being tested in Denver and the San Francisco/San Jose area.

“The real goal here is to make shopping as simple as possible and give customers the visibility into how much they save when they shop with us,” the Wal-Mart spokesman says, noting that the retailer will follow unit pricing measurement guidelines set forth by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is part of the U.S. Commerce Department.

Walmart.com is No. 4 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. Costco is No. 14, Walgreens is No. 43 and FreshDirect is No. 80 and CVS is No. 103.

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